Any day is a good day to take a bicycle ride through the Gypsum Hills of Barber County.
Not far removed from Pratt, the Gypsum Hills of Barber County, primarily, present an enticing landscape to pedal a bicycle through. That is exactly what my wife, Kathie, and I did last Friday, setting our sights on completing a century, or 100 mile ride. We launched the ride from our home in Pratt and meandered into Sun City and then over the hills and onto the Gyp Hills Scenic Byway into Medicine Lodge before heading north on Isabel Road and back home via Sawyer.
The day was not without a few challenges. Coats Road was in the process of being resurfaced on Friday morning, so the route unexpectedly included a four mile off-road loop on dirt and sand, resulting in one small crash in the sand, fortunately a soft landing. By midday, the heat and lack of shade along Isabel Road became a major factor, but, more about that later.
The Gypsum Hills north and south of Sun City are absolutely beautiful. This year, the grasses still appear lush and green. As our bicycles rose and fell among the hills, we saw a wide range of wildlife, like turkey vultures, red-tailed hawks, red-winged blackbirds, meadowlarks, scissor-tailed flycatchers, rabbits, turtles, and a deer or two. This great expanse of mixed-grass prairie offers a great wildlife habitat. Even if you are unable to bike through the hills, a weekend drive through the back roads of Barber County is well worth your time. Here’s an interesting link about a Gypsum Hills Wildlife Drive suggested by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism http://www.naturalkansas.org/gypsum1.htm. In my next blog, I’ll continue the bicycle journey as I answer the question, What does it mean to bonk?